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AudioFile Best Audiobook of the Year of 2007
Audie® Award finalist
“It took me a long time and most of the world to learn what I know about love and fate and the choices we make, but the heart of it came to me in an instant, while I was chained to a wall and being tortured.”
So begins this epic, mesmerizing debut novel set in the underworld of contemporary Bombay. Shantaram is narrated by Lin, an escaped convict with a false passport who flees a maximum-security prison in Australia for the teeming streets of a city where he can disappear. Accompanied by his guide and faithful friend, Prabaker, the two enter Bombay’s hidden society of beggars, gangsters, prostitutes, holy men, soldiers, actors, and exiles, who seek in this remarkable place what they cannot find elsewhere.
As a hunted man without a home, family, or identity, Lin searches for love and meaning while running a clinic in one of the city’s poorest slums and serving his apprenticeship in the dark arts of the Bombay Mafia. The search leads him to war, prison, torture, murder, and a series of enigmatic and bloody betrayals. The keys to unlock the mysteries and intrigues that bind Lin are held by two people. The first is Khader Khan: Mafia godfather, criminal philosopher-saint, and mentor to Lin in the underworld of Bombay. The second is Karla: elusive, dangerous, and beautiful, whose passions are driven by secrets that torment her and yet give her a terrible power.
Burning slums and five-star hotels, romantic love and prison agonies, criminal wars and Bollywood films, spiritual gurus and mujahideen guerrillas—this huge novel has the world of human experience in its reach and a passionate love for India at its heart. Based on the life of the author, it is by any measure the debut of an extraordinary voice in literature.
© 2003 by Gregory David Roberts
“Shantaram is dazzling. More importantly, it offers a lesson…that those we incarcerate are human beings. They deserve to be treated with dignity. Some of them, after all, may be exceptional. Some may even possess genius.”
Ayelet Waldman, New York Times bestselling author
“Few stand out quite like Shantaram…nothing if not entertaining. Sometimes a big story is its own best reward.”
New York Times
“An elegantly written, page-turning blockbuster…splendidly evoking an India few outsiders know.”
Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
“Shantaram is, quite simply, the 1001 Arabian Nights of the new century. Anyone who loves to read has been looking for this book all their reading life. Anyone who walks away from Shantaram untouched is either heartless or dead or both. I haven’t had such a wonderful time in years.”
Jonathan Carroll, author of White Apples
“Utterly unique, absolutely audacious, and wonderfully wild, Shantaram is sure to catch even the most fantastic of imaginations off guard.”
“A sprawling, intelligent novel…full of vibrant characters…Bombay itself is Shantaram’s strongest performance and Roberts’s love of India and the people who live there is unmistakable and a joy to read about.”
“Vivid, entertaining…Its visceral, cinematic descriptive beauty truly impresses.”
“Shantaram had me hooked from the first sentence. It is thrilling, touching, frightening…A glorious wallow of a novel.”
Detroit Free Press
“[A] massive, thrillingly undomesticated potboiler…Roberts, who wrote the first drafts of the novel in prison, has poured everything he knows into this book and it shows. It has a heartfelt, cinemascope feel…A sensational read.”
Publishers Weekly (starred review)
“Crime and punishment, passion and loyalty, betrayal and redemption are only a few of the ingredients in Shantaram...every single sentence rings true…[Lin is] a soldier of fortune, a picaresque hero: the rascal who lives by his wits in a corrupt society. His story is irresistible.”
Amazon.com, editorial review
“Mesmerizing…Bower weaves a world of interesting characters, both Indian and expatriates, and makes even the exaggerated moments believable. He keeps pace beautifully with Roberts’ writing style, which shifts continually from the descriptive and philosophical to the tragic to the broadly comic. Bower makes this unique milieu into one that’s fascinating and compelling.”
“Roberts graphically, even beautifully, evokes [the Bombay underground] milieu—he is as effective at imparting impressions as any good travel writer—in this complex but cohesive story about freedom and the lack of it, about survival, spiritual meaning, love, and sex; in other words, about life in what has to be one of the most fascinating cities in the world…Roberts is also a gifted creator of characters—not only Lindsay but also Prabaker, who becomes Lindsay’s guide, caretaker, and entree into various elements of Bombay society. Soon, too, one becomes aware and appreciative of Roberts’ felicitous writing style…it is difficult not to be ensnared by it.”
1 out of 1 (100%) recommend this productWrite a review
I have read this book six times!April 2, 2013I started reading books in audio 5 or 6 years ago and Shantaram was one of the first my library. Gregory David Roberts describes the life of an Anglo in India with vivid clarity. You know his characters are real people. The life of a poor person (and a white criminal hiding from Australian law) in India is hard, full of adventure and swept with the love and the disregard that fellow humans have for each other.
The book is an absolute adventure that proves the redemption of men and women even after committing acts of pure hatred and depravity.
Humphrey Bower (one of my favorite narrators) proved once again that he is a master at capturing the essence of the imperfections of humanity, and the hilarity, love, sadness, and flaws of the storytellers characters and theme.
I guess you can tell that I loved - no love this book! Roberts has written a sequel to the book but I have not been able to find it in audio format. Oh well, since I have read Shantaram six times I will just have to keep reading over and over. It is hard to imagine how he could surpass this novel.